District equipment to be auctioned off

GLENDALE — School district officials aren't calling it a fire sale, but the Board of Education on Tuesday voted to auction off used exercise equipment.

Any revenue will go directly into the general fund, where officials project an $18.5-million deficit by July 2012.

"If we can get some worth from it and put those dollars back into an account, that's what we'd do," said John Fenton, the facilities and development administrator for Glendale Unified. "We're not going to keep it stored here forever."

District officials outsource bidding through InterSchola, a company that specializes in the regulation-heavy school surplus marketplace. The company handles everything from advertising, shipping and finding a buyer.

The company uses EBay primarily because of strict resale rules for the surplus materials that require bidding, said InterSchola founder and President Melissa Rich.

"It's more of a listing service," she said. "Craigslist, unfortunately, does not qualify for the requirement that these be sold through public auction."

Because school equipment is bought with public funds, state law requires school boards to put surplus supplies up for competitive bidding. Glendale Unified doesn't have the staff to comply with the regulations, so it's more cost effective to work with InterSchola, Fenton said.

"You have to have a body to do it and someone to follow up, and we're pretty thin," he said.

InterSchola works with about 30% of California school districts in selling or buying exercise equipment, foot service machines, musical instruments, computers and athletic equipment, Rich said.

"Rather than reinvent the wheel, EBay has 84 million registered users, and those people are interested in buying the equipment or things school districts have to sell," she said. "And most of those people are repeat buyers."

Selling used or outdated equipment is a regular process, in good times and bad, Fenton said.

"It's more routine than it is something out of desperation," he said.

"We do this surplus property a lot, whether it's computers, food service equipment or those types of items."

Rich has seen both sides because the company opened in the Bay Area in 2004.

"It's a sign of the times that there are these declining budgets," she said. "School districts, especially in declining budget times, just don't have the resources to focus on what to do with their old stuff."